Sunday, October 2, 2016

10 Intriguing October 2016 Book Releases

october books_2

October is my favorite month of the year and has been for as long as I can remember. When I was little this was probably because of school really getting into gear (oh, how I loved school!), jumping in leaf piles, my birthday and Halloween. Now I love the crunchy leaves, the reds and oranges and golds, the apple dumplings, the pumpkin-picking, the start of pleasantly crisp sweater weather, harvest-scented candles, football on TV, curling up with a book on a blustery evening, the first fire of the year, and the general coziness and festive air that comes with the beginning of the holiday season.

Of course, I won't be experiencing two-thirds of those things here in Hawaii this year (and football comes on at the crack of dawn -- literally), so please enjoy them for me! Meanwhile I'll be enjoying my mom's visit, a trip to Kauai and some intriguing new book releases!

The Wangs vs. the World by Jade Chang

From Goodreads: Charles Wang is mad at America. A brash, lovable immigrant businessman who built a cosmetics empire and made a fortune, he’s just been ruined by the financial crisis. Now all Charles wants is to get his kids safely stowed away so that he can go to China and attempt to reclaim his family’s ancestral lands -- and his pride.

Charles pulls Andrew, his aspiring comedian son, and Grace, his style-obsessed daughter, out of schools he can no longer afford. Together with their stepmother, Barbra, they embark on a cross-country road trip from their foreclosed Bel-Air home to the upstate New York hideout of the eldest daughter, disgraced art world it-girl Saina. But with his son waylaid by a temptress in New Orleans, his wife ready to defect for a set of 1,000-thread-count sheets, and an epic smash-up in North Carolina, Charles may have to choose between the old world and the new, between keeping his family intact and finally fulfilling his dream of starting anew in China.

Outrageously funny and full of charm, "The Wangs vs. the World" is an entirely fresh look at what it means to belong in America -- and how going from glorious riches to (still name-brand) rags brings one family together in a way money never could.

My thoughts: This sounds like, a fun, lighthearted read, and I love books about road trips! The characters do sound a little annoyingly materialistic and vapid from the blurb, but I'm still planning to give it a try!

Forty Autumns: A Family's Story of Courage and Survival on Both Sides of the Berlin Wall by Nina Willner

From Goodreads: In this illuminating and deeply moving memoir, a former American military intelligence officer goes beyond traditional Cold War espionage tales to tell the true story of her family -- of five women separated by the Iron Curtain for more than forty years, and their miraculous reunion after the fall of the Berlin Wall. A personal look at a tenuous era that divided a city and a nation, and continues to haunt us, "Forty Autumns" is an intimate and beautifully written story of courage, resilience, and love -- of five women whose spirits could not be broken, and who fought to preserve what matters most: family.

My thoughts: This promises to be an interesting non-fiction read! I can't imagine being separated from my family for decades because of political circumstances. We think of a united Germany as one of our biggest allies -- and vacation destinations --  now and it's easy to forget that, even post-WWII, that hasn't always been the case.

Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple

From Goodreads: Eleanor knows she's a mess. But today, she will tackle the little things. She will shower and get dressed. She will have her poetry and yoga lessons after dropping off her son, Timby. She won't swear. She will initiate sex with her husband, Joe. But before she can put her modest plan into action -- life happens. Today, it turns out, is the day Timby has decided to fake sick to weasel his way into his mother's company. It's also the day Joe has chosen to tell his office -- but not Eleanor -- that he's on vacation. Just when it seems like things can't go more awry, an encounter with a former colleague produces a graphic memoir whose dramatic tale threatens to reveal a buried family secret. "Today Will Be Different" is a hilarious, heart-filled story about reinvention, sisterhood, and how sometimes it takes facing up to our former selves to truly begin living.

My thoughts: Semple's quirky novel, "Where'd You Go, Bernadette," has stuck with me the past few years -- and inspired me to add Antarctica cruise to my bucket list -- and I'm excited to see what she brings with her new book.

Sirius: The Little Dog Who Almost Changed History (A Novel)

From Goodreads: Berlin, 1938: Sirius, a dashing fox terrier, lives a charmed life with the German Jewish Liliencrons. But, with the rise of Nazism, the Liliencrons decide to leave Berlin for Hollywood. Sirius takes his destiny into his own hands with the kind of melancholic mirth exclusive to his breed. He becomes a celebrated film star and circus performer, friend to Rita Hayworth and Cary Grant. But, when a magic trick goes wrong, Sirius ends up back in war-torn Berlin. Never one to despair, he finds himself in the Führer's headquarters as Adolf Hitler's lap dog... and an informant for the resistance.

My thoughts: I read an advance copy of "Sirius" and, while it had a few flaws, this translated-from-German novel was quick and unique, and it should entertain dog-loves and historical fiction readers alike. You can read my review here.

The Comet Seekers by Helen Sedgwick

From Goodreads: "One Day" meets "The Time Traveler's Wife" in this spellbinding, magical debut novel about love, loss, hope and heartbreak that shows us that for each of us, the world can be as lonely or as beautiful as the comets that illuminate the skies above us.

Róisín and François first meet in the snowy white expanse of Antarctica. And everything changes. While Róisín grew up in a tiny village in Ireland, ablaze with a passion for science and the skies and for all there is to discover about the world, François was raised by his beautiful young mother, who dreamt of new worlds but was unable to turn her back on her past. As we loop back through their lives, glimpsing each of them only when a comet is visible in the skies above, we see how their paths cross as they come closer and closer to this moment. Theirs are stories filled with love and hope and heartbreak, that show how strangers can be connected and ghosts can be real, and the world can be as lonely or as beautiful as the comets themselves.

My thoughts: This book sounds ah-maze-ing. I've been looking forward to it since I first read the blurb months ago. I love reading books set in places like Alaska and Antarctica, and this one promises to be a beautiful story.

The Clancys of Queens by Tara Clancy

From Goodreads: Fifth-generation New Yorker, third-generation bartender, and first-time author Tara Clancy was raised in three wildly divergent homes: a converted boat shed in working class Queens, a geriatric commune of feisty, Brooklyn-born Italians, and a sprawling Hamptons estate she visited every other weekend. This childhood triptych comes to life in "The Clancys of Queens," an electric, one-of-a-kind memoir.

From scheming and gambling with her force-of-nature grandmother, to brawling with eleven-year-old girls on the concrete recess battle yard of MS 172, to hours lounging on Adirondack chairs beside an immaculate croquet lawn, to holding court beside Joey O’Dirt, Goiter Eddy, and Roger the Dodger at her Dad’s local bar, Tara leapfrogs across these varied spheres, delivering stories from each world with originality, grit, and outrageous humor.

But The Clancys of Queens is not merely an authentic coming-of-age tale or a rowdy barstool biography. Chock-full of characters who escape the popular imaginings of this city, it offers a bold portrait of real people, people whose stories are largely absent from our shelves. Most crucially, it captures -- in inimitable prose -- the rarely-heard voices of New York’s working-class women. With a light touch but a hard hit, The Clancys of Queens blends savvy and wit to take us on an unforgettable strata-hopping adventure.

My thoughts: I'm always up for a good memoir, and this one sounds so interesting! I'm so far removed from all three of the realms that Tara's inhabited -- and that's one of the joys of books, getting a vicarious look through the writing of the author!

Paris for One by Jojo Moyes

From Goodreads: Nell is twenty-six and has never been to Paris. She’s never even been on a weekend away -- to anywhere, and certainly not with her boyfriend. Everyone knows traveling abroad isn’t really her thing. But when Nell’s boyfriend fails to show up for their romantic mini-vacation, she has the opportunity to prove everyone -- including herself -- wrong. Alone and in Paris, Nell uncovers a version of herself she never knew existed: independent and intrepid. Adventurous, funny, and charming, "Paris for One" is vintage Moyes—as are the eight stories that round out the collection.

My thoughts: I adore Jojo Moyes and I'm working through all her novels. I'm not usually a short story fan but I'm planning to give this compilation, not available in the U.S. until now, a try!

A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas

From Goodreads: With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper class society. But even she never thought that she would become a social pariah, an outcast fending for herself on the mean streets of London. When the city is struck by a trio of unexpected deaths and suspicion falls on her sister and her father, Charlotte is desperate to find the true culprits and clear the family name. She’ll have help from friends new and old -- a kind-hearted widow, a police inspector, and a man who has long loved her. But in the end, it will be up to Charlotte, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, to challenge society’s expectations and match wits against an unseen mastermind.

My thoughts: I am a total sucker for any and all Sherlock Holmes spin-offs! Watson as female has been done in the TV show "Elementary," but I've never encountered Holmes as a woman before!

The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict

From Goodreads: A vivid and mesmerizing novel about the extraordinary woman who married and worked with one of the greatest scientists in history. What secrets may have lurked in the shadows of Albert Einstein’s fame? His first wife, Mileva “Mitza” Marić, was more than the devoted mother of their three children -- she was also a brilliant physicist in her own right, and her contributions to the special theory of relativity have been hotly debated for more than a century.

In 1896, the extraordinarily gifted Mileva is the only woman studying physics at an elite school in Zürich. There, she falls for charismatic fellow student Albert Einstein, who promises to treat her as an equal in both love and science. But as Albert’s fame grows, so too does Mileva’s worry that her light will be lost in her husband’s shadow forever. A literary historical in the tradition of "The Paris Wife" and Mrs. Poe, "The Other Einstein" reveals a complicated partnership that is as fascinating as it is troubling.

My thoughts: I definitely enjoyed the advance copy I read of "The Other Einstein," though, as I stated in my forthcoming review, it was one of those books that made me feel very lucky to be a woman living in the 21st century.

Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady's Guide to Sex, Marriage & Manners by Therese Oneill

From Goodreads: A scandalously honest guide to the secrets of Victorian womanhood. Therese Oneill opens the doors to everything we secretly wanted to know about the Victorian era, but didn't think to ask. Knickers with no crotches? Check. Arsenic as a facial scrub? Check. The infrequency of bathing and the stench of the Victorian human body? Check mate.

Hilarious, horrifying, shocking and revelatory, "Unmentionable" is for every girl who pictured herself running through a field of wildflowers in a silk dress and "Little House on the Prairie" boots, only to discover she has nits in her hair, her clothes have never been washed and she sleeps with her poop under her bed in a bowl.

My thoughts: This book sounds like so much fun and totally fascinating! As I said under "The Other Einstein," I would definitely not like to go back and live in this time period, but I sure love reading about it!


  1. Oh. My. God. I had not heard of Unmentionable but I'm putting it on hold at the library right now! Have you read How to be a Victorian? I loved it, and I think there will be a little overlap, but this sounds awesome!

    The Comet Seekers interests me too. I love books that take place in very cold places, even though I wouldn't want to live there. (I grew up in Maine and that was enough, thanks. Massachusetts is even getting unbearable.)

    I've been looking forward to the Maria Semple ever since I read Where'd You Go Bernadette!

    1. I have the same inclination toward books set in cold places like Antarctica, the North Pole, Alaska, Iceland... I guess because I have a soft spot for mountains, snow and rugged terrain being from Colorado and I also love the ocean -- and those places are all so stunningly beautiful! I have a ridiculous number of books like that on my to-read list and I need to read them all so I can compile them into a list!

      I haven't heard of "How to be a Victorian," but I am definitely going to look it up! Just like with the cold-weather settings, I have NO desire to live in that time period, but I love reading about it!

    2. There's "How to be a Tudor" too! Those are both going on my to-read list!

  2. I'm almost 3/4 done with A Study in Scarlet Women and am loving it. It's really good and well written. I think you'll like it.


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